Weeknote 50

Hello. I’m back. Let’s do this!

§1: Zotero for your lab

I recently learned that Zotero now provides an option for an organization to play for unlimited storage for users at two levels. Zotero Lab costs $30 per user with a minimum user base of 15 users ($450) and Zotero Institutions costs $2100 for the first 500 FTE and $0.42 per additional FTE.

Keep in mind, this allows users to have their own separate libraries. You can still pay for unlimited storage for one account for $120 and share this account with others via Zotero’s Group feature.

I’m happy to see these additional paid features being offered as I see this as a a way for Zotero to offset their development and maintenance costs.

§2 I am no longer reading your sub-tweets

Twitter is a nazi bar now so I’m on Mastodon. My law-tech librarian self is at https://law.builders/@copystar. I have another instance but it’s locked down.

§3 LibNFTs? No.

At the Fall Meeting of CNI, The LibraryNFT project was announced.

Nearly 12 months ago, celebrities relentlessly touted cryptocurrency during Super Bowl television ads, urging viewers to buy now instead of missing out. Now, digital currency assets like Bitcoin and Ethereum are worth half what they were this time last year. We believe, however, that the broader public attention on cryptocurrency’s volatility obscures the relevance and applicability of non-fungible tokens (NFTs) within the academy. For example, Ingram has announced plans to invest in Book.io, a company that makes e-books available on the blockchain where they can be sold as NFTs. The famed auction house Christie’s launched Christie’s 3.0, a blockchain auction platform that is dedicated to selling NFT-based art, and Washington University in St. Louis and the University of Wyoming have invested in Strike, a digital payment provider built on Bitcoin’s Lightning Network. Seeking to advance innovation in the academy and to find ways to mitigate the costs of digitizing and digitally preserving distinctive collections and archives, the discussants have formed the LibNFT collaboration. The LibNFT project seeks to work with universities to answer a fundamental question: can blockchain technology generally, and NFTs specifically, facilitate the economically sustainable use, storage, long-term preservation, and accessibility of a library’s special collections and archives? Following up on a January 2022 Twitter Spaces conversation on the role of blockchain in the academy, this session will introduce LibNFT, discuss the project’s early institutional partners, and address the risks academic leaders face by ignoring blockchain, digital assets, and the metaverse.

Peter Murray has written a response to this project that names the cause of concern quite clearly: it is a project that does not express a clear purpose, other than a pursuit of profit. Rather than lay out a reasoned case for developing NFTs from our collections, their white paper opts to threaten the reader instead with “GLAM leaders ignore blockchain, digital assets, and the metaverse at their institutions’ peril.”

Except the GLAM sector has not been ignoring NFTs or blockchain. I presented about the very first NFT and what it could mean for libraries at the 2015 Access Conference. Other librarians like Jason Griffey and Bohyun Kim, have been writing and speaking about blockchain and other decentralized systems for just as long. But you would never know this if you read the LibNFT White Paper where they say that they are beginning the discussion of NFTs and the GLAM sector. Now, of course, no one has to cite prior work. Ignoring women scholars and scholars of colour is easy as right-clicking a jpg.

I am particularly disappointed by both the President of the Association of Research Libraries and the President of the Society of American Archivists who have lent their support to this project, which I would like to point out, is being funded by venture capitalist group The Pearl Fund and one of their investments, Skilltype. Their involvement begs the question: why would a memory institution, like a libraries or archive, partner with a company that exists to deliver 10x profit to investors if indeed, the pursuit is find “economic sustainability of digitized collections”? How high do you think the line goes up?